Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dallys Jean *A Birth Story*

I knew that I wanted to write this out, but I wasn't sure I wanted to share because it was so special to me. I love reading and hearing my friends' birth stories, though, so I finally decided I could share some of my experience...

So, earlier on in our pregnancy, we were given multiple 'due dates'. The doctors seemed to be going back and forth between November 28th and December 3rd... (my OBGYN has a 'round-robin' type of practice so you can meet all of the docs before you deliver because you'll get whoever is on call that day). A few weeks ago, we actually asked what the actual date was they were going for because we had been told differently so often. They said we'd go with the later date because they were pretty close together anyway. I was happy because babies tend to run late in our families and I really didn't want to medically induce labor if I happened to go late.

About a two weeks before Thanksgiving week, I started having real contractions. They weren't very close together, though. I went to my weekly appointments and I was dilated to 1 cm. The contractions continued, but didn't change and I was gaining 1 cm at each weekly check-up. 

I had a weekly on November 25th, and on the 23rd, I downloaded an app on my phone so I could start timing them. I was too impatient and distracted to try to do it myself, plus I didn't think I was ready yet. They were still too far apart.  The next night, they were coming regularly, about 8 minutes apart and lasting for about 20 seconds each. I called the hospital and asked them if they thought I should come in. Their response was that if I can talk through them, and they're not taking my breath away, I probably wasn't ready to go in yet. I sent my mom a text message, though, with a screen-shot of my times to ask her opinion, too. We decided to stay home and keep timing so I tried to get as much sleep as I could.

On Wednesday morning, Andrew and I got up and were sitting at the table eating breakfast when there was a knock at the door. To our surprise, my mother was standing there upon our opening of the door. We were shocked and just laughed... Andrew's first words out of his mouth were, "What are you doing here?"! (She lives about 7-8 hours away, so she had been driving all night through a crazy snow-storm to get there). 

We had a few errands to run so we headed into Kalispell with Mom. I was doing well, but I had a weekly check-up and when we got there, I was dilated to a 4.5 and the NP stripped my membranes. She said she thought we'd have the baby by the end of the weekend with how I was handling things while in her office. (The contractions were still coming about 7-8 minutes apart, so very little change). We went to Costco after the doc visit and I noticed that it was getting harder to walk through my contractions. Slowly, I noticed that they were beginning to come closer together. We finished our errands and headed home. When we got there, it was about 4:30 PM and Andrew started to build a fire, but I told him we probably wouldn't be needing one that night. 

I bounced around on the exercise ball for a while and walked around our apartment... by 5:30, they were coming about 4-5 minutes apart and getting stronger, but I could still talk through them and I really didn't want to be turned away if we went to the hospital. 

We finally decided to go in and pulled into the parking lot right at 7 PM. Thankfully, they admitted me right away. I wasn't sure what they would do because I felt that I was handling things pretty well, and I still hadn't hit that 'out of breath' state, but I just knew that it wouldn't be long.

In L&D, I stayed standing up because it was super uncomfortable for me to sit or lay down. When we got checked out upon arrival, I had dilated to 6 cm (super awesome after going 1 cm/week up to that point... almost 2 cm in just a few hours). 

Andrew and I had started reading Patrick McManus' book, "A FINE AND PLEASANT MISERY" a few days earlier and I thought it would be nice to take my mind off things so I pulled it out and started reading. If you're not familiar with Pat, he's an author who grew up in the Idaho Rockies. He writes about his experiences as a boy and his stories will make you laugh out loud. It worked for us, and within five minutes of me pulling the book out, we were laughing, when suddenly, I felt and heard this 'pop'. I stopped laughing, looked up and said, "I think my water just broke!"

Sure enough, it had... I'm not sure, but think it must have been about 9 PM at this time and the nurses came in and told me I was doing awesome, but that the contractions would probably be a lot more painful at this point. They asked if I'd like an epidural. I wasn't against getting one, but the pain was still tolerable and my plan was that I would take it as it comes... if I felt that I couldn't go further without it, I'd get one. At this point, I was still doing great with things and so I told them I'd keep going how we were.

I hopped up on the bed on all fours to stretch my back out because that's where most of my pain was at this time. For a while, I just rocked back and forth on the peanut ball on the bed until they asked if I'd like to get into the bath. Bath-time is one of my FAVORITE past-times and go-to relaxers at home, so I thought this sounded like a grand idea. This is where things changed...

I'm not exactly sure what happened, but as soon as I hit the water, my body kind of started to go into shock. I began shaking/trembling out of control and I couldn't seem to get my bearings back. My breathing, up to this point, had been deep and in-control, but with the shaking, it suddenly became shallow and out of rhythm. To add to it, I was starting to have the urge to push, but I still wasn't fully dilated, so the nurses asked me to try to get my breathing back under control so I wouldn't try to push too soon. They wanted me to get back on the bed, but I couldn't get out of the tub for the shaking...

It seems that time was speeding by at this point and everything became a blur... I remember the nurses talking to me about gathering my bearings and just making a run for the bed between contractions, but I couldn't even lift myself up I was shaking so bad. I remember looking at Andrew and telling him I didn't know if I could do what I needed to do in that moment. I also asked the nurses if we could get the epidural when I could figure out a way to get into the bed. That gave me a reason to figure out a way out of the bathtub. 

Somehow, I finally lifted myself into a semi-standing position and Andrew basically carried me to the bed. I was shaking so much, I couldn't even bear myself up on my own feet.

I rolled to my side and went through a few contractions when the anesthesiologist arrived. At this point, though, I could feel Dallys moving down and I really didn't know if I was going to be able to sit still long enough for him to get the needle in. I was finally starting to slow with the shaking, and my IV pole was next to the bed, so I reached up and clutched it for dear life as he worked on my back. I remember saying that I didn't think we had time because that urge to push was coming even stronger and I was still laying on my side. 

Somehow, I managed to hold still long enough for everything to work and I was so grateful for the medicine. I had been freezing since getting out of the tub and the first sensation I noticed was a warming which took the edge off and allowed me to relax.

About 15 minutes after I got the epidural, it was time to start pushing. It was sometime around 11 PM. I pushed for just over 40 minutes and she was here! I couldn't believe that in less than 5 hours from our arrival at the hospital we already had her in our arms! It was an amazing experience.

I was surprised at how quickly I healed and how good I felt just after. I am so grateful for the experience. I wouldn't call it 'easy' but it was strangely enjoyable and definitely nothing like what I thought it would be like.

And that's the story... but the real story is just beginning!